Knives, pots, blow torches, mixers, scorching fires—when you think about it, a kitchen isn’t too different from a scientist’s lab where ingredients are mixed, beaten and boiled to delicious results. Add in the creativity of a great chef and the possibilities are endless.
South Florida foodies are looking forward to indulging in those possibilities at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, coming to town Feb. 19-23 throughout Miami. Among the events and experiences at the 19th annual festival is the new “Chef Mash-up” (on Feb. 20), during which some of Miami’s top culinary minds will collaborate on one-of-a-kind mouthwatering dishes. In anticipation of “Chef Mash-up,” Lifestyle asked four of the participating chefs— Jhonny Delgado, Jimmy Pastor, Demetrio Zavala and Betsy Rivera—to don lab coats and bring to life dishes that showcase their mad scientist mindset heading into the event.
Pictured above from left: Jhonny Delgado (B Bistro & Bakery), Jimmy Pastor (Rusty Pelican), Demetrio Zavala (Shula’s Restaurants) and Betsy Rivera (Vicky Bakery)
Sous Chef, B Bistro & Bakery
Once a lawyer in his native Venezuela, Delgado has traded in his law books for a chef’s apron. Two years ago, he started as a line cook at B Bistro, where he says he was given the chance to pursue his passion for gastronomy, resulting in being named sous chef 1½ years ago.
The Dish: Miami Vice-themed grilled cheese
The Science: For “Chef Mash-up,” Brian Mullins of Ms. Cheezious food trucks (and the restaurant in the MiMo District) and Delgado will combine their culinary claims to fame: B Bistro’s charcoal-activated and caramel-filled croissant and Mullins’ grilled cheese. The resulting croissant (below is the bread version)will pay homage to Miami by featuring the famous colors of the Miami Vice logo. While the activated charcoal, a well-known ingredient, doesn’t change the taste of the bread, it creates a contrast to the provolone and mozzarella cheese adorned with organic food coloring.
Corporate Culinary Director, Shula’s Restaurants
The Chopped winner learned about cooking as a child from his grandmother and was later inspired by chef Pierre Viau in Boca Raton. Since then, he’s worked at Max’s Grille and several Washington, D.C., restaurants, driven by his belief that making a dish that changes someone’s day is his way of giving back. At press time, Zavalo and chef Jimmy Pastor were slated to collaborate at “Chef Mash-up.”
The Dish: Cured tuna with pickled Florida orange, saffron-compressed daikon and basil kombucha
The Science: Zavalo’s dish is a medley of salty, acidic and tangy flavors, starting with the tuna, cured with celery powder in a vacuum-sealer machine, which he notes is a healthier alternative than curing with nitrates. He roasts a lemon and purees it into a paste with garlic confit and compresses a daikon radish in a dashi with saffron before slicing it into rings. The dish is topped with a garum sauce and Zavalo’s homemade basil kombucha.
Eastern regional chef for Specialty Restaurants Corp., parent company of Rusty Pelican; also executive chef, Rusty Pelican
The graduate of Johnson & Wales University has worked his culinary magic at The Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne, Conrad Miami and W South Beach. As part of his job, he regularly travels to Specialty’s 18 restaurants, which he says allows him and the other chefs to inspire each other’s dishes.
The Dish: Organic chili-glazed carrots with cashew ricotta, toasted pistachios and truffle sand
The Science: This vegan dish on Rusty Pelican’s menu is inspired by one of Specialty’s California restaurants and showcases the chemistry of changing textures. The cashews are soaked in water overnight and then put in a food processor with extra virgin olive oil to “get that bit of sourness you sometimes get from a ricotta.” Maltodextrin powder transforms the fat in the truffle oil into a fine sand that resembles the texture of confectioners’ sugar. A carrot puree is made with pickled ginger juice and toasted pistachios add crunch and smokiness.
Executive Baker, Vicky Enterprises
A former cake decorator for a downtown vegan bakery, Rivera taught herself baking techniques. Now, she’s been learning the ropes from the current owners of Vicky Bakery, which has gained fame for its Cuban favorites since it opened in Hialeah in 1972. She is about a year into the process, working from the Vicky headquarters in Medley and mastering the original recipes diners enjoy at its 15 locations.
The Dish: Caramel flan mousse
The Science: Rivera and chef Giorgio Rapicavoli of Spanglish Craft Cocktail & Kitchen will combine their sweet talents to present a fresh texture on the traditional Latin American favorite, keeping the traditional caramel flavors of a flan but presenting it as a mousse that’s less gelatinous and lighter than a typical flan. Another texture changer is Vicky Bakery’s señorita pastry (a traditional Cuban three-layer pastry with custard), which is crumbled on top. The dessert is crowned with a drizzle of caramel and garnished with blow-torched caramel.
Don’t Miss at SOBEWFF
Here are some of the don’t-miss events at SOBEWFF.
What: Samantha Schnur of foodie Instagram account The Naughty Fork hosts this night of collaboration and fun among Miami’s most well-known chefs, who combine their talents to create unique dishes. Dancing and DJs add to the ambience.
Info: $95; Feb. 20, 10 p.m.-midnight; Ace Props Miami, 398 NE 78th St., Miami; sobewff.org/ace
Zak The Baker’s Gospel & Falafel
What: Zak Stern hosts a late-night party that gives bread lovers a behind-the-scenes look at his popular Wynwood bakery. Wines, spirits and live music liven the night with bites from Stern, chef Bradley Kilgore, chef Val Chang and cookbook author Adeena Sussman.
Info: $125; Feb. 20, 10 p.m.-midnight; Zak The Baker, 295 NW 26th St.; sobewff.org/gospel
Sliced: A Genuine Pizza Party
What: Miami Design District presents the ultimate pizza party hosted by chef Michael Schwartz to celebrate his pizza cookbook, which came out last year. Independent rock band The Hails performs while guests enjoy slices from pizzamakers around the country as well as beer and cocktails.
Info: $95; Feb. 21, 10 p.m.-midnight; Miami Design District’s Jungle Plaza, 3801 NE First Ave.; sobewff.org/pizza
What: Host Guy Fieri gathers more than 30 of the country’s greatest chefs to slow-cook the ultimate melt-in-your-mouth beef, poultry, seafood and pork barbecue dishes. American Idol winner Laine Hardy performs country music live.
Info: $175; Feb. 22, 7-10 p.m.; North Venue Beachside at Delano Entrance at 1 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; sobewff.org/bbq
Nu Deco Ensemble Evening of Wine, Food & Music
What: At this open-air concert, the renowned Miami-based orchestra performs reimagined covers of music from popular artists and today’s composers. Grammy Award winner and former Run DMC frontman Rev Run joins the fun, while listeners sample wine from Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and bites from Politan Row Miami food hall.
Info: $95; Feb. 22, 8-11 p.m.; North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; sobewff.org/bandshell
Bacardi’s Beach Carnival
What: Close out the festival with a party hosted by TV’s Andrew Zimmern that features live music, craft cocktails from Bacardi, and bites from Miami’s culinary movers and shakers such as Jimmy Gallagher of Mandrake Miami, Richard Sandoval of Toro Toro and Monica Leon of Caja Caliente.
Info: $115; Feb. 23, 6-9 p.m.; North Venue, Beachside at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach Entrance at 1 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; sobewff.org/carnival
Photography by Libby Volgyes
Story by Keren Moros
Shot on location at The Rusty Pelican, Key Biscayne
Special thanks to Larry Carrino and the team at Brustman Carrino